George R. R. Martin is a unique individual. That fact is confirmed in just about every interview the man does.
Martin, of course, is the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the critically acclaimed novels that have spawned the critically acclaimed TV series Game of Thrones.
In an interview on Conan O’Brien, Martin revealed something surprising about his computer usage. First, he uses two separate computers. Second, he’s writing the sixth book in the series on the same computer on which he wrote the first book: a 1980s DOS computer with WordStar 4.0:
Martin is a millionaire and he’s using a computer that is about 25 years old – older than many people reading this article. That’s impressive.
Is Martin crazy? Of course not. There are plenty of benefits to using an old computer – especially if it’s well maintained.
Benefits of using a DOS machine
-No internet connections means little risk of viruses, malware, hacking, phishing, or other problems
-No auto-correct on Microsoft Word, which, as Martin explains, can be a big help to fantasy writers when you’re writing words like Targaryen and Westeros over and over again
-You can still backup your data onto USB sticks or, more likely in Martin’s case, floppy disks
-Enjoying a simple, usable, and functional operating system that you only need to perform one task
-No distractions like the internet or video games
Downsides of using a DOS machine
-No cloud backups. If your hard drive crashes or local data is lost, then you won’t be able to access that data from any other computer.
-Hardware failure – no computer lasts forever
Personally, I’m just curious what kind of keyboard Martin uses. Has he used the same keyboard since the 1991? Or does he have to get a new one every year?
It’s interesting that a man who writes some of the longest books in the world also uses one of the oldest computers in the world. Fortunately, Martin does have a newer computer that he uses to browse the web, check his emails, and file taxes. That’s good because you can do absolutely none of those things on a DOS computer.
If you want to use a computer like George R. R. Martin, then it’s going to be tough to find a DOS box. You can check old schools or garage sales around your community. Or, if you’re willing to pay a little more, eBay is also a good option.
But thanks, Conan. Now my biggest fear over the next few months is that George Martin loses the entire sixth novel because his hard drive crashed and he forgot to back everything up to floppy disks.